News / Europe

Kerry Likely to Discuss Israeli-Turkish Ties, Syria While in Turkey

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at the State Department, April 2, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at the State Department, April 2, 2013.
Dorian Jones
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is due to visit Turkey this weekend as part of a trip the region.  Syria is expected to be high on the agenda, as well as the ongoing efforts to mend relations between Turkey and Israel.
 
According to State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, Kerry will be seeking to build on the current rapprochement efforts between two key U.S. allies.

"By going to Istanbul first then going onto Israel, the secretary will also have an opportunity to spur both sides to continue to take steps to deepen their normalization and work well together," said Nuland.
 
Last month, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accepted an apology from his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu for the 2010 killings by Israeli commandos of nine Turks aboard a ship seeking to break Israel’s economic blockade of Gaza. Israel has also agreed to pay compensation to the victims' families.

Secretary of State John Kerry's destinations on his upcoming trip to the Middle East.Secretary of State John Kerry's destinations on his upcoming trip to the Middle East.
x
Secretary of State John Kerry's destinations on his upcoming trip to the Middle East.
Secretary of State John Kerry's destinations on his upcoming trip to the Middle East.


For its part, Ankara has agreed to take steps to unfreeze diplomatic relations - a process observers say Secretary Kerry will be looking to expedite.

Semih Idiz, diplomatic columnist for the Turkish newspaper Taraf, warns rapprochement efforts will not be easy.
 
"There won't be much love in this relationship, because I think from the Israeli perspective, they look at the present government as Islamic and fundamentalist, and, on the other hand, from the Turkish, Erdogan and AKP [Turkey's ruling party] perspective, they look on Israel as oppressors of the Palestinians and generally as anti-Islamic and all that. But then there is practicality of the issue vis-a-vis Syria forcing them [to] push this ideological orientation to the background because the situation on the ground requires them to do so," said Idiz.

Idiz points out that the governments of Israel and Turkey, both of which share a border with Syria, have called for international intervention in the Syrian conflict.  Soli Ozel,  a lecturer at Istanbul’s Kadir Has University, points out Ankara’s strong support for the Syrian opposition against President Bashar al-Assad means there is the potential for Turkey and Israel to work closely together.

"Turkey has already insinuated itself in the Syrian matter and it wishes itself to be in the forefront, and to make sure the new regime in Syria is not one that is detrimental to Israeli security concerns or even Turkish security concerns. I think these two can cooperate. Whether they will cooperate operationally, I don’t know yet; it depends how long this goes on," said Ozel.

Syria is expected to be a key issue in Kerry’s talks with his Turkish counterpart. Ankara is likely to press for arming the Syrian opposition.  Reviving the stalled negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel is also likely to be on his agenda during his visit to Istanbul.

Diplomatic columnist Idiz says the thawing of relations between Turkey and Israel makes it possible for Ankara to play a positive role in those efforts.
 
"Now [that] it’s [Turkey] talking to all sides, there is a potential for Turkey to play a role," he said. "And I think Israel will want this, because Turkey can use its moderating influence on Hamas, for example."

The Turkish government has close ties with the Hamas leadership. But international relations expert Ozel warns those close ties means the current rapprochement efforts between Turkey and Israel is vulnerable to any major outbreak of violence between Israel and the Palestinians.
 
"Let's not say hostage, but dependent on what goes on in the West Bank, they [Turkey's leaders] cannot turn their back to the Palestinians if or maybe when the third intifada erupts," he said. "If there is an intifada and the Israelis brutally suppress [it], it's going to be very difficult for the Turkish government to maintain its relations [with Israel]."

But Ozel points out there are also powerful economic considerations that could drive rapprochement efforts between Israel and Turkey. Israel is reported to be looking at Turkey as a route for distributing newly discovered natural gas to the lucrative European market. That fits well with Ankara’s bid to become an energy hub to the region - something observers say Kerry will be keen to point out during his visit to Istanbul.

You May Like

Russia's 'V-Day' Glory Over Nazis Overshadowed by Ukraine

Critics say Soviet-style display of power, nationalism don't recognize tragic scars of warfare that still influence politics, fighting in Ukraine More

Tensions Simmer in Hong Kong in Lead Up to Vote

Many Hong Kong citizen say if the reform plan will be a step back for the pro-democracy movement if passed More

Multimedia Obama Calls for New Commitment to Help Minority Youths Succeed

President introduces My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, foundation supporting better education and job prospects More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Campaign Raises Money to 'Uncuff' Journalistsi
X
May 04, 2015 3:32 PM
Beginning Sunday – World Press Freedom Day – the Committee to Protect Journalists, a private U.S. group, is launching a campaign to bring attention to their plight and encourage efforts to free them. Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Campaign Raises Money to 'Uncuff' Journalists

Beginning Sunday – World Press Freedom Day – the Committee to Protect Journalists, a private U.S. group, is launching a campaign to bring attention to their plight and encourage efforts to free them. Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Volunteers Pull Together to Aid Baltimore Riot Victims

Calm has returned to Baltimore, Maryland, after authorities lifted an overnight curfew imposed almost a week ago to stem the rioting that followed the funeral of Freddie Gray - the 25-year-old black man who died of spinal injuries suffered while in police custody. Six police officers, three of them African-American, have been charged in connection with his death. Baltimore is now trying to get back to normal, in part with the help of volunteers who responded to calls to help those in the city'
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Obama Praises Work of 3 Immigrant Journalists

President Barack Obama met with three immigrant journalists at the White House Friday to praise them for their work ahead of World Press Freedom Day, May 3. In attendance: Dieu Cay (his pen name) a blogger from Vietnam recently released from prison; Lily Mengesha from Ethiopia who was harassed and detained for exposing the marrying off of young girls as child brides, and Fatima Tlisova, an ethnic Circassian from the North Caucasus region of Russia, who works for VOA's Russian Service.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Black Families Use Baltimore Case to Revisit 'Police Talk'

Following Freddie Gray’s death in police custody this month, VOA interviewed black families throughout the eastern U.S. city of Baltimore about how they discuss the case. Over and over, parents pointed to a crucial talk they say every black mother or father has with their children. Victoria Macchi has more on how this conversation is passed down through generations.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video First Surgical Glue Approved for Use Inside Body

While medical adhesives are becoming more common, none had been approved for use inside the body until now. Earlier this year, the first ever biodegradable surgical glue won that approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on the innovation and its journey from academia to market.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Study: One in Six Species Threatened with Extinction

Climate change is transforming the planet. Unless steps are taken to reduce global warming, scientists predict rising seas, stronger and more frequent storms, drought, fire and floods. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, a new study on species extinction underscores the need to take action to avoid the most catastrophic effects of rising temperatures.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Baltimore Riots Shed Light on City’s Troubled Past

National Guard troops took up positions Tuesday in Baltimore, Maryland, as authorities tried to restore order after rioting broke out a day earlier. It followed Monday's funeral of a 25-year-old black man who died while in police custody earlier this month. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.

Poll: Baltimore Police Charged

Poll archive

VOA Blogs